My external hard drive is now saying "Drive not formatted. Format now?".

Can you recommend some hard drive rescue and repair utilities?

I know the data is still there, as there is nothing wrong with the hard drive.

Here's what happened:

  1. I have a laptop with an ExpressCard with a SATA port.
  2. There is a SATA cable running to an external hard drive.
  3. The ExpressCard was loose, the laptop blue screened, and I havn't been able to access the hard drive since. This is the second time this problem has happened in 6 months, and I suspect my ExpressCard might have stomped on enough sectors, so that Windows is saying "Drive not Formatted. Format now?".
  4. There is nothing physically wrong with the hard drive.
  • I had set up the external SATA drive so it was "Optimized for quick removal", i.e. no write caching. – gravitas Nov 2 '09 at 1:00
  • My computer is Windows XP + SP3 – gravitas Nov 2 '09 at 1:01
  • These should really be edits to your original question, not additional comments – MDMarra Nov 2 '09 at 1:04
  • 2
    Perhaps this question is better suited on superuser.com? – pkaeding Nov 2 '09 at 1:08
  • 1
    This is better suited to superuser.com – Izzy Nov 2 '09 at 1:16

Try TestDisk; I could almost completely recover my 320 GB WD Ex.Hdd. It is a simple and free Open source coded console application, Linux version is much better to recover because of the illegal character support of Linux.

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Try a Linux LiveCD (e.g. Ubuntu or Backtrack), Linux systems are often better at reading "broken" file systems than Windows.

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What you need is a "complete undelete" sytle program or one that advertises data recovery. To be absolutely safe you would want to back up the drive sector by sector with something like Symanctec Ghost or Acronis Trueimage before attempting recovery in case the tool writes to the drive for some reason.

Of course all of this will cost you time, effort, and money. It's hard to say how much of each it might take and you would have to decide when to cut your losses if the first few attempts don't work.

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chkdsk e: /r assuming your drive is e:

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  • chkdsk won't work an an "unformatted" drive. – pplrppl Nov 2 '09 at 1:45
  • If the drive is RAW then yes, this will not work. I have, however, seen drives that are still seen as NTFS that exhibit this behavior. In that case chkdsk almost always works. The OP did not state what the exact condition of the filesystem is. – MDMarra Nov 2 '09 at 9:39

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